December 29, 2020
Dear ISRA Players, Fans, and Cheerleaders,
Season’s Greetings from the ISRA Board of Directors!
Let’s see if I might have one succinct gene left in my body that will help make this year-end update as brief, yet informative, as possible. Here we go!
The ISRA Board has been working hard all year, with 11 monthly Board calls under our belts. I’m really proud of our Board’s dedication in motoring on in the face of unprecedented challenges. We took to Zoom in September and are enjoying seeing each other, especially since we can’t play or run events. There are 17 of us, but this week we say goodbye to Glen Bero who is moving south to Arkansas. Good luck to Glen, and we thank him for his time on the Board!
“Memberships” is our biggest concern. To be straightforward, players historically do not renew their memberships until a sanctioned tournament is in their immediate future. It’s been that way forever, but in this “one heckuva year,” it puts USAR and the ISRA under serious strain. Both organizations’ membership numbers are at historic lows. We need your support, and in return, we will continue to work hard to serve you and the sport we all love. Simply and humbly put, if you are in a position to do so, will you please go to USAracquetball.com, log in under Membership, and renew your membership today, even if events are still up in the air?
Speaking of events…
Tournament Schedule — State Championships — At our December meeting, the Board decided in favor of health, safety, and common sense:
ISRA State Doubles — postponed from the traditional late January dates to tentative dates in the fall (TBA).
ISRA State Singles — postponed from the traditional late February date to the Regionals date already on the calendar: April 16-18, 2021.
Since Amazon has not delivered the proverbial crystal ball as yet, we can consider everything tentative. FLEXIBILITY is our middle name, and during our frequent meetings, we will continue to stay on top of the COVID situation and adjust as necessary and indicated.
Annual Awards — one of our favorite things to do here in Illinois is to recognize players and contributors. Since practically no competition took place after mid-March (with a nod to the outdoor event at Rainbow Beach!), the Board decided to combine 2020 results (3 tournaments) with those for 2021 to determine recipients of ISRA Annual Awards for 2020/2021, to be awarded at the 2022 ISRA State Singles Championships.
Junior Team Illinois began its formal season in early October and was able to get a number of weeks’ worth of socially distanced practice in before Tier 3 Mitigations kicked in last month. We had to pause. We continue to meet briefly each Sunday morning on Zoom, to stay connected with our young players and talk with them about fitness, conditioning, refereeing skills, and more.
Congratulations to Axel Lopez (Boys 12), Montserrat Torres (Girls 12), and Saigeetha Varadharajan (Girls 14) for earning a spot on the US Junior National Team after participating in last summer’s challenging qualifying process!
We are not going to miss the opportunity this year to bestow the TJ Ferro Junior Scholarship Award on a worthy applicant. The application deadline is January 18, 2021. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Looking back over the past year, here are some examples of 2020 contributions to celebrate:
Dolores Lamberson penned the State of Our States – ISRA update that was published in the August issue of USA Racquetball’s Serving Up the News newsletter. We’re proud of keeping the ball rolling (figuratively speaking) here in Illinois. Dolores puts in a lot of dedicated time as our Treasurer as well!
Alisa Burris joined us as our Social Media Coordinator in the first quarter, and she has been a joy to work with. “Likes” on our Facebook page have increased impressively, and Alisa is always available to post and to advise. (Note: There are a lot of opportunities for dialogue on Racquetball out there on Facebook. Our plan is not, and never has been, to provide another forum for dialogue, although anyone can comment on any post. We are accomplishing our strategy exactly as planned — keeping the ISRA and racquetball visible in a professional, positive, and entertaining way, and we hope you are finding it so!)
Geoff Peters and Dan Jaskier put two successful fundraising initiatives together to help shore up the ISRA’s financial position, and they were so helpful. Thanks also to Joe De Armas and the staff who administrated the efforts from the Glass Court front desk. This partnership can never be overrated!
We are grateful to ISRA Board Members Carolyn Vazquez, John Thorson, and Glen Bero, as well as Marian Bala, Andy Pitock, Jairo Torres, Liz Molitor, Michael Fornero, Barry Dixon, and Lem Rowans for their coaching/mentoring assistance to our JTI players.
Whew! Succinct? Perhaps not. Sincere? Absolutely! There’s a lot to say! We are proud to serve the players of Illinois, and we look forward to the time when we can all be together once again.
Let’s stay connected:
On behalf of the ISRA Board of Directors, we wish you and your families a MUCH-IMPROVED New Year 2021!
Illinois State Racquetball Association
Moving forward…ha, you thought I was finished!
In January, the USAR Membership Committee kicks off its Happy ReNew Year 2021 (RACQ ETBALL is Missing U!) to encourage members to renew, hopefully sign up some new members, and reward our loyal members. There is an impressive array of giveaways being donated by manufacturers, racquetball organizations, tournament directors, U.S. Team members, and generous individuals. To be eligible for the giveaway drawing, be sure you’re a current USAR member before February 10, 2021!
In February, the ISRA and Junior Team Illinois are teaming up to offer The Team Illinois Virtual Valentine’s Day Dance Event on FEBRUARY 14, 2021 @ 11am CT. Official registration for this event will open in January.